Pastor Edward Brouwer 8-27-17 “Good to Go” Acts 1:1-11
Good to Go
Introduction—Today we are talking about the Ascension. It’s not an idea that we think about often. It’s related to monarchy and as a republic the idea is not a part of our regular conversation. I grew up in Canada, a parliamentary democracy whose title head is the Reigning Regent of Great Britain. Queen Elizabeth II has reigned longer than her great grandmother Victoria’s 62+ year stretch. On February 6 1952 Princess Elizabeth’s life changed dramatically. Her father died that day and she left her idyllic and relatively quiet life of princess, wife and mother to two toddlers, to become queen of a vast domain in the British Commonwealth. On June 6 1953, 64 years ago the world watched her coronation. As she ascended the gilded thrown and the crown was placed on her head, her relationship changed to all her subjects. Long live the Queen! The Ascension of Christ to the right hand of the Father, is also a game changer. God in Christ became a human being, suffered death for our sake, rose again from the dead as evidence of His power over death, ascended in heaven and is now seated in the place of authority. Why did Jesus have to go? Why not just stay and establish His kingdom after his resurrection? He had to go so that WE could go.
Read Acts 1:1-11
Today I am beginning a series in Acts. Acts was written by Luke the Gentile Doctor. His gospel is part ONE and Acts is part TWO. Luke writes to Theophilus (lover of God) in both books that “you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught”. Stop and think. Theophilus means “God lover” in Greek. Put yourself then in the place of Theophilus. This is a letter to you personally: fillin the blank…Calvin, Zeke, Glenda and Linda! Part 2 starts “what Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up into heaven”…so Acts is about the acts of Jesus from that point forward. Some people call the book the Acts of the Apostle’s; I prefer to call this the acts of Jesus by His Spirit. For 40 days after his resurrection until going to heaven, Jesus performed many convincing signs, to various groups, that left them all convinced that He was indeed the Messiah. He spoke to them about the kingdom of God. This is a familiar theme of Jesus, and He is about to show that He is the king of the kingdom. And so Jesus, over a meal one day says that they should remain in Jerusalem until they become baptized in the Holy Spirit.
John’s baptism—with water unto repentance, anticipating the coming of the Messiah. John is a type of Elijah—the forerunner.
Holy Spirit baptism—with fire unto empowerment
The disciples have a legitimate question in verse 6. They assumed that Christ would immediately inaugurate HIS kingdom. This is logical and it follows that you usher one victory in upon the other. However the disciples had a “political” kingdom in mind (drive out the occupying Romans and establish a new Davidic reign) but Jesus has something else in mind: My kingdom is NOT of this world Jesus said to Pilate at His trial.
The question/response to Jesus is: WILL YOU? And Jesus replies in essence: YOU WILL!
Application: the disciples then were looking for a sign of the coming of Christ’s kingdom. Jesus admonished them saying it’s NOT for you to know the times or dates the Father has set. Please stop speculating! It’s unhealthy and unhelpful. We have work to do! When is the best time to plant a tree? 20 years ago! When is the second best time? Today! Martin Luther is reputed to have said that if he knew the end of the world was coming tomorrow he would plant a tree today. We have no control over tomorrow but we do have control over ourselves today—so go out and do what God is calling you to and leave the results to God. The reality is that NO ONE knows what tomorrow will bring—so be faithful to what HE is calling you to do today.
After this Christ was taken up from their very eyes and a cloud hid him. What is going on here? First of all understand that the cloud is not some sort of theatrical gimmick to “hide” Jesus—like some sort of technological “fade-out’ in the movies. The cloud throughout scripture represents the glory of God. The Kavod in Hebrew. Think in terms of the cloud of God’s presence that led Israel in the wilderness. Is Jesus some cosmic astronaut, a divine spaceman going into the heavens? There is a difference in the biblical term heavens and heaven. Heavens is the sky above land and sea. Heaven is the place of God’s eternal abode. Yuri Gagarin, the first human in space, representing the Soviet Union, an atheistic state, he said “I see no God up here”….as if the Creator of the Universe actually had his office somewhere above earth. God does NOT related to us the way for example someone in the attic relates to people on the floor below! Heaven is a different dimension of time and space. We function in 4 dimensions, height, breadth and depth (3 D space) and time moving forward in the moment (and only in our memories going back). Scientists tell us there are many dimensions. I believe that Heaven is God’s dimension of reality that intersects with ours. Jesus is present to us where the dimension of heaven and earth meet. It is because of the ascension that Jesus is now available to all of us.
Think about the story of Mary at the garden Tomb. When Mary recognized Jesus she wrapped her arms around his feet and clung to him. Mary, Jesus said “don’t cling to me for I have NOT yet ascended to the Father”. In other words I think Jesus is saying, If I don’t go, if I don’t take my rightful place of authority on the throne next to my Father, then I can only be available to a few of my disciples at a time. Jesus resurrected body was of a different order than his mortal flesh, but still only those in his vicinity could have access to him. Jesus is saying, when I go, then EVERY believer will have access to me by my Spirit.
And so as the little crowd of disciples looks into the sky and see’s their Savior leave it’s with mixed emotions: for his leaving may have meant a loss of security, protection and intimacy. And so the angels chide them a little…why are you gawking? He will come again some day…and then Luke adds this at the end of his gospel Luke 24:50 ff Jesus blessed them and left them, they returned to Jerusalem with great joy, praising God in the temple. Maybe those angelic visitors words brought home the truth of the anticipation of His return. That instead of getting LESS of Jesus that in fact they were getting MORE of Jesus. Instead of LOSS now Jesus Christ would become available to all—no longer localized but now universal to all.
Think of Peter in prison, Paul and Silas praising God in jail. John exiled on the island of Patmos, who was “in the spirit on the Lord’s Day”….or Andrew Brunson in a lonely jail cell in biblical Smyrna (Izmir). Because of the Ascension, no one and nothing can separate us from Christ because we are “in” him and he is “in” us. Because of Pentecost.
Because Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father, he truly does have all authority. And he has delegated that to us. Now YOU GO! In Ephesians 2, Paul is writing about the fact that at one time we were without Christ and without hope in the world. But because of the coming of Christ, his death and resurrection, WE are now seated with him, we are enthroned with him:
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Are we literally seated with him in the heavenly realms? No but figuratively we are. Christ on the throne means he has all authority and now because we are IN him we have this authority. HIS victory is our victory. Think about it this way. In the summer of 1969 some of you watched as Neil Armstrong became the first human being to set foot on the moon. He said “that’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”. He spoke for himself first and then for all humanity. Every one who witnessed that said “WE did it!” We landed on the moon! Not he or they but WE! Did we all really go to the moon? No of course not. But he did and he represented ALL of us in doing so. We associated with him as an American and as a human and his victory became our victory. And so too with Christ! Christ has won the victory and taken his seat. Jesus Christ is our head, we are connected to him and he has given us HIS authority. Christian what does this mean for us now?
Authority to share the gospel with boldness
Authority to pray prayers of protection over our children and family
Authority to say NO! you will not rule over me flesh, world and devil!
Authority to pray for vision, for kingdom vision and that “no weapon formed against you shall prosper” Isaiah 54:17
So GO, like Jesus told you and me, and share the gospel and live it every day. Be bold and courageous for HIM because he has overcome the world.